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The impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural livelihoods is devastating. A comprehensive, long-term perspective is essential if the agriculture sector is to be successful in addressing the HIV pandemic.

Preventing HIV/AIDS and mitigating its consequences must be seen as mutually supportive activities. The agriculture sector is faced with a dual challenge: supporting rural livelihoods and reducing the vulnerability of farm households to the impacts of HIV/AIDS; and satisfying national economic objectives, in which agriculture often has a key role to play.

FAO is developing a multi-dimensional agriculture-sector response to HIV/AIDS. Each response represents a strategy that consists of a set of possible programmatic activities to alleviate problems created by HIV/AIDS.

The responses are based on a number of general principles:

  Supporting diversity, gender equality and human rights;
  Reducing the stigma that accompanies HIV/AIDS; and
  Building partnerships and developing creative synergies
   with other sectors.

All of the strategies require the agriculture sector to be more creative in delivering services, working with other stakeholders to provide a coordinated response in which rural institutions are strengthened and community-based initiatives promoted. The people must be at the center.

key facts

labour-intensive farming systems with a low level of mechanization and agricultural input are very vulnerable to AIDS

access to and control over productive resources, including land, credit, knowledge, agricultural inputs and technology provide the basis for addressing the gender impacts of HIV/AIDS

agrobiodiversity and indigenous knowledge have the potential to empower rural people in tackling food insecurity and addressing AIDS-related impacts

micro-finance and community credit are essential in mediating the impacts of HIV/AIDS and innovative schemes need to be developed

Farmer Field Schools enable farmers to learn from each other about issues ranging from pest management to AIDS

home gardens provide nutrients and add variety to staple foods

  contact:   © FAO, 2006